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Page last updated at 02:58 GMT, Monday, 17 November 2008

Obama 'to rebuild moral stature'

Michelle and Barack Obama are interviewed by CBS (16 November 2008)
Mr Obama said national security and the US economy would be top priorities

US President-elect Barack Obama has promised to rebuild his country's "moral stature in the world".

In his first television interview since the election, Mr Obama told CBS he would pull troops out of Iraq, shore up Afghanistan, and close Guantanamo Bay.

"I'm going to make sure that we don't torture," he said of the prison camp.

Mr Obama also promised to do "whatever it takes" to stabilise the US economy, including rescuing the struggling auto industry and assisting homeowners.

On Saturday, he said the US was facing "the greatest economic challenge of our time" and urged Congress to help with "at least a down-payment on a rescue plan that will create jobs".

His advisers later said he would support the co-ordinated response to the global financial crisis agreed by the G20 on Saturday.

'No torture'

The BBC's Sarah Morris in Washington says Mr Obama appeared relaxed in the interview he gave to CBS's 60 Minutes programme.

Obama 'will close Guantanamo'

He answered questions about national security, the economy and about future appointments to his administration ahead of his inauguration on 20 January.

Mr Obama said getting a national security team in place as soon as possible was one of his top priorities, "because transition periods are potentially times of vulnerability to a terrorist attack".

When asked about his promise to withdraw from Iraq, he said that as soon as he takes office he will "call in the Joint Chiefs of Staff, my national security apparatus, and we will start executing a plan that draws down our troops".

"Particularly in light of the problems that we're having in Afghanistan, which has continued to worsen. We've got to shore up those efforts," he added.

Mr Obama also said a top priority would be "to stamp out al-Qaeda once and for all" and that capturing or killing Osama Bin Laden was "critical" to US security.

He later confirmed that he intended to close the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, and "make sure that we don't torture".

"Those are part and parcel of an effort to regain America's moral stature in the world," he explained.

A newspaper box stands near the General Motors world headquarters in Detroit (7 November 2008)
Mr Obama pledged to help for the struggling US auto industry

The president-elect went on to discuss how he had been talking to top economic advisers about how to create jobs and get the economy back on track.

He said he intended to put into place new stimulus packages and help for the troubled US auto industry and struggling homeowners.

He said the consensus among economists from both the left and right was that "we're going to have to spend money now" to get the economy moving again.

"And that we shouldn't worry about the deficit next year or even the year after; that short term, the most important thing is that we avoid a deepening recession," he added.

Mr Obama also confirmed he had met his former Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, last week, but refused to comment on speculation linking her to the post of secretary of state in his cabinet.

However, he did say the Republican Party would be represented.

Dog delay

For the last portion of the interview, Mr Obama was joined by his wife, Michelle, who talked about her priorities as First Lady and how her family would cope with the pressures of living in the White House.

The primary focus for the first year will be making sure that the kids make it through the transition
Michelle Obama

Mrs Obama said she was looking forward to moving to Washington, where the family would be under one roof again after 18 months, during which her husband had been travelling around the country.

"The primary focus for the first year will be making sure that the kids make it through the transition. But there are many issues that I care deeply about," she said. "I care about military families and the work-family balance issue."

Mrs Obama also revealed that their daughters, Malia and Sasha, would have to wait at least two more months for the puppy which her husband publicly promised them on election night.

"We're on call mode on the dog front. Because the deal with the dog was that we would get the dog after we got settled. Because as responsible owners we - I don't think it would be good to get a dog in the midst of transition," she said.

"We cut that deal with the kids before America knew about it. So they're good with it," she added.

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